We’ve all seen those check boxes on web forms – generally with the “Yes, send me lots of junk email” choice (maybe not in so many words) already checked – that ask if it’s okay to send you occasional emails or start a free trial of the paid version or install [name redacted] Security Scan or change your default browser to something other than the one you just launched. At least one of these that I’ve seen in the not-too-distant past have the option to decline worded thusly: “No, and don’t ask again.”
I think that’s brilliant, and I think that every request in life should have this as a third option (after “yes” and “no”).
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that I’ve recently (well, over the last 12 to 18 months) been reading some articles on the importance of learning to say “no.” I’ve slowly come to realize that, along with being an Introvert, I also have many of the traits associated with being a Highly Sensitive Person, and a people pleaser (I’ve seen some indications that there may be a link between these two, but I don’t have a citation).
Psychotherapist Kali Munro, in her excellent article on “People Pleasing” says: “It’s painful being a people pleaser. People pleasers are not only very sensitive to other people’s feelings, and often take things personally, but they also rarely focus on themselves. When they do take a moment for themselves, they feel selfish, indulgent, and guilty which is why they are often on the go, rushing to get things done. Because people pleasers accomplish so much and are easy to get along with, they are often the first to be asked to do things – they are vulnerable to be being taken advantage of.”
I don’t know how I came to be this way, and I don’t think the causes cited in the article linked above really apply to me. But I have for many years had a terrible time saying “no” to almost any request from a family member, friend, or co-worker. It may or may not be interesting to note that I have no trouble whatsoever saying “no” to telemarketers, or really to most sales types.
Lately, I’ve been doing better at saying “no” to requests. In fact, my default answer when people ask me to do something has become “no” (it used to be “yes”). I have found that life has been much less stressed when I’m not over-committed to a bunch of tasks that (a) I’m not interested in to start with, and (b) don’t further the goals that I have.
One thing that has made learning to say “no” difficult, is that for so long I agreed to do so much, that now when I do say “no” people will continue to ask – either immediately or over several days to a few weeks – and also try to convince me to do what they want me to do. I don’t want to be rude to people, or to seem unkind, but I guess I’m going to have to learn to say “no, and don’t ask again” in addition to, or maybe instead of, learning to say “no.”